1. Hike in Runyon Canyon
2001 N Fuller Ave, , 90046
This public park features beautiful views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills. The Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory are visible along the trail (great photo opportunities).
The hike is a good workout with a good mile or so of walking uphill. Visit on the weekdays for fewer crowds – trust me the weekends get pretty packed! There is free parking available near the entrance. If you are looking more for relaxation rather than hiking, check into a morning yoga sessions (offered for free).
In my opinion, Runyon Canyon should be the top attraction on everyone’s L.A. to do list! You will not only get a great workout in for the day, but get the opportunity to soak in fantastic views of the city, take memorable photographs, and most of all, enjoy a relaxing nature experience away from the traffic & congestion of the city.
2. Enjoy a scenic bike ride on The South Bay Bicycle Trail
Torrance County Beach to Will Rogers State Beach, , 90505
"The Strand" bike path is a great way to enjoy a day out exploring the various beach towns while also getting in a workout. This 22 mile path runs from Torrance to Will Rogers State beach. Free parking can be found at the beginning of the path in Torrance (check the side streets, just watch for signs). I love that you can always find free parking basically anywhere in L.A.
There is so much to do along the way including watching volleyball games in Manhattan Beach, being entertained by unique street performers in Venice, and riding past the Santa Monica Pier. In addition to all these attractions, you are surrounded by gorgeous ocean views and bright sunny skies. The path is never overcrowded and it is always a smooth ride! Nothing says Southern California quite like several hours of bike riding along endless beaches!
3. Take a stroll along one of the beaches
Dept. of Beaches and Harbors - 13837 Fiji Way, , 90292
I love walking or running along the beach early in the morning before it gets really hot outside and crowded; it's basically one of the few times you can feel as if you have the ocean to yourself in Los Angeles. All beaches are great, however, I highly recommend Manhattan Beach and Will Rogers State beach for their beauty and tranquility.
4. Ride the Santa Monica Pier rollercoaster
200 Santa Monica Pier, , 90401
Combining a fun roller coaster ride with spectacular views, is the historic Santa Monica coaster, located right on the famous pier, and offering panoramic views of the Pacific. In addition to a coaster, Pacific Park is also home to carnival games, restaurants, additional rides, and even a small aquarium.
5. Visit the Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Ave, , 90027
The Griffith is a great place to visit day or night. There are great views of the city, surrounding mountains, and Hollywood sign from the on-site trails and free telescopes for your use at night when skies are clear. As an added bonus, the nighttime city views of LA are pretty spectacular. All exhibitions are free except for the shows which are worth the small fee.
The trails at the Griffith Observatory offer the best views of the Hollywood sign. On the trail, you can take awesome close up pictures. There is free parking if you are willing to hike up to the entrance!
6. Watch a live taping of your favorite TV show
Various studios, , 90210
Watching your favorite sitcom being filmed is a great way to see your favorite celebrities up close. A trip to L.A. isn't quite complete without doing some type of celebrity themed event. Let's face it - Los Angeles is such a big city and your likelihood of seeing a movie star elsewhere is slim.
The tapings are really fun. There is a warm up comedian who interacts with the crowd during breaks. Some celebrities will hang around afterwards to provide autographs. I have gotten a few autographs after tapings, including Neil Patrick Harris.
Audiences Unlimited and On Camera Audiences hold the majority of sitcom and reality TV show audience tickets. During my time in L.A., I attended tapings of American Idol, Big Brother, The Price is Right, Melissa & Joey, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a few pilot episodes. Popular tapings book fast so make sure to check back frequently!
7. See the street performers in Venice
Venice Beach Boardwalk - 1800 Ocean Front Walk, , 90291
Being entertained by the street performers at Venice Beach is one of the more unique experiences in L.A. You will find just about everything here including palm readers, novelty acts (the guy who walked on glass particularly stood out), Muscle Beach (the beach side gym where bodybuilding competitions were held), and the Graffiti Walls. There are so many crazy acts going down the boardwalk that you are sure to have an odd, yet entertaining experience.
8. Shop & dine at the beautiful Grove Shopping Center
189 The Grove Dr., , 90036
The Grove is a spectacular outdoor mall in the L.A. area with nice landscaping, several high end designer shops, and plenty of fun dining options. There is also a movie theater and a free trolley that goes between the mall and the Farmers Market. This is a popular celebrity hangout and hundreds of sightings have occurred. Check the event calendar for free concerts and movies in the summer.
The best time to visit is during the holidays when they go all out with a 110 foot Christmas tree (the largest in L.A.) and even a little bit of fake snow which is sure to please all those wishing for a White Christmas.
There is a small charge for parking, however, it is free with restaurant validation. Check for filming of Extra with Mario Lopez, which is taped live during the week. In my experience, the taping is a fun way to spend an afternoon watching a TV show being filmed (plus they give out free stuff!).
9. Search for your favorite stars on Hollywood Blvd.
6925 Hollywood Blvd, , 90028
There are lots of fun touristy things to do on Hollywood Blvd. First of all, there are fabulous views of the Hollywood sign from the second floor of Hollywood and Highland Center mall.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater is home to the famous hand and foot prints of many celebrities, both past and present. This is also the location of many movie premieres where you can catch a glimpse of your favorite celeb arriving.
Here you can also search for your favorite stars at the Walk of Fame. You could literally spend hours checking out all of them as it seems to go on forever. On busy weekends, it can be hard to take photographs next to your favorites, so go early to avoid the crowds.
There are several touristy restaurants in the area including my personal favorite, Hard Rock Café. In addition, you will also find the Hollywood Wax Museum, Guinness Book of World Records Museum, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum in the area.
10. Window shop Rodeo Drive & take your photo by the famous Beverly Hills sign
Rodeo Drive - 9480 Dayton Way, , 90210
Although cheesy & tourist, visiting Beverly Hills is something you have to do at least once. Take a walk down Rodeo Drive and window shop all the upscale shops or take a walk over to Beverly Gardens Park, which is also the location of the trademark Beverly Hills sculpture. I love all the colossal palm trees that line the streets of Beverly Hills. I recommend Sprinkles Cupcakes for a tasty treat. You can find this famous sign at: Sunset Blvd. and Sierra Drive in Beverly Hills.